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Sudden Death

movie reviewmovie review out of 4

*Also starring: Raymond J. Barry, Whittni Wright, Ross Malinger, Dorian Harewood, Kate McNeil, Michael Gaston, Audra Lindley

Reviewer Roundup
1.  Steve Rhodes review follows movie reviewmovie review
2.  Dragan Antulov read the review movie reviewmovie review

Review by Steve Rhodes
2 stars out of 4

SUDDEN DEATH is a Jean Claude Van Damme action film. If you feel like a DIE HARD II type of movie and are ready to switch your brain to autopilot, this movie will provide an acceptable time at the Bijou. Sometimes after a hard week at work, you want a little fast paced albeit highly implausible compendium of chases and shoot 'em ups.

It's the seventh game of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Darren McCord (Jean Claude Van Damme) is an ex-firefighter who quite years ago after a frightening rescue attempt of a small girl. He is now a fire inspector at the big dome stadium where the game will be played. He has two tickets so he takes his son (Ross Malinger) and daughter (Whittni Wright) to the game with him.

At the game, renegade government operative Joshua Foss (Powers Boothe) breaks into the box of the Vice President of the United States. He calls the president and demands that he transfer zillions of dollars to foreign banks or he will kill people at the end of each period and then kill everyone in the stadium at the end of the game. Think about the title, and you can write most of the rest of the movie yourself without Gene Quintano's simplistic script. Most of the movie consists of McCord single-handedly disarming the bombs while Foss's large team of bad guys try to stop him.

The director (Peter Hyams) has a Spartan approach that sticks to action (read killing) without much worry about plausibility. I never realized how many ways there are to kill people in a kitchen. The lines are broadly written and sometimes funny. When the Vice President asks Foss what he wants, Foss replies, "What do I want? World peace, an end to bigotry, and no more mini-malls." The pacing by editor Steven Kemper is clean and crisp.

This movie is pure escapism and action scenes. Think of it as DIE HARD II crossed with BLACK SUNDAY. If that is what you want, you could worse that SUDDEN DEATH. Every once and a while, play-by-play announcer Mike Lange would come on with such tidbits as, "He hit his head on the ice. He hit it so hard that his kids will be born dizzy." Not particularly original, but funny nevertheless.

I find Jean Claude Van Damme a strange actor. He does not have the charisma of a Steven Seagal or the energy of a Bruce Lee and yet his low key approach to killing bad guys holds a certain fascination no matter how ridiculous. Powers Boothe is always good as an evil figure and here he gives his standard performance. The best scene of all, and one worthy of a much higher quality movie, is the one where Van Damme gets to suit up and go on the ice. It is wonderful.

SUDDEN DEATH runs 1:50. It is rated R for massive violence which sometimes makes you squeamish but more often is more cartoonish than anything. After you see scores of people killed with little small bullet holes in the head, it becomes more unreal than frightening. I think the show is acceptable for teenagers if they are mature. I can not bring myself to recommend SUDDEN DEATH, but it did provide a nice diversion albeit a totally forgettable one. I give the film **.

Copyright 1996 Steve Rhodes

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